Northeast Wisconsin
  • Northeast Wisconsin
  • October 2015
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Nutrition for digestive health

Digestive problems are one of the most common health challenges. There is a wide range of digestive complaints from gas and bloating to severe colitis and irritable bowel syndrome. Gluten sensitivities and food allergies are becoming more common. In this article I will focus on supplements that aid digestive wellness and can be used for simple and/or complex problems. One needs to play detective in order to discover what the likely cause of the problem is. This article is not about what you need to take in your specific case but rather gives you an approach to using nutritional supplementation to support digestive health. This month I will discuss stomach issues, and next month I will cover intestinal health.

First, identify where your problem exists. Is it upper gastrointestinal (GI) like your stomach or throat? Is it lower GI, meaning small or large intestine? You need to know your target area.

Second, identify your problem. If you have a chronic or serious condition you may have to work with a health care professional. You need to know if there is a disease, allergy or microbiome imbalance. There are some common supplements that anyone with a digestive issue should consider.

The basics of digestive health

The basics of digestive health begin with digestive enzymes. If you have problems with food digesting soon after you eat, you probably need digestive enzymes. If food sits like a rock after you eat or you have bloating and burping, you are likely not digesting food well and a broad based digestive enzyme would be the supplement to try. You will know in a few days if enzymes are working for you.

Perhaps the one supplement that everyone can use is probiotics. Probiotics are the beneficial bacteria that inhabit your intestinal track. Probiotics benefit your digestion, immune system, mood, weight and more. The most common reason for disruption of your microbiome is the use of antibiotics. Whenever you use antibiotics you will need to use a therapeutic quality probiotic to get the good stuff back into your system. Failure to do this can have serious consequences if bad bacteria gets into your system first. Yogurt does not replace a good probiotic.

These first two recommendations are for most people. Everyone should take a probiotic and use enzymes when needed. From here, we start to look more closely at the problems people commonly have.

Belching, bloating and gas

This is a classic sign of a need for digestive enzymes. You take enzymes when you eat. They will work or not. If they work, you take them with every meal. Some enzymes are good for all foods and others are specific such as fat digesting enzymes and so on.

Excess stomach acid

There are millions of people who rely on stomach acid reducing drugs. These drugs are meant to be used short term, but most people use them chronically with serious complications. You should understand these risks. Some people on these drugs are actually low on stomach acid and would benefit from taking a digestive enzyme with hydrochloric acid. The way to easily test this for yourself is to take a small amount of apple cider vinegar and see if you feel better or worse. If you don’t feel worse, your problem may not be excess acid. You should pursue this further.

If you do have excess stomach acid then you need to also protect your stomach lining. If you have developed ulcers or have an irritated stomach you have many choices that can help you. Here are a few options:

Deglycyrrhizinated licorice, known as DGL, is known to help heal ulcers. PepZin GI is zinc carnosine, which helps to heal and protect the stomach lining. D-limonene can reduce or eliminate heartburn for up to six months after only three weeks of use. Aloe vera juice is healing to the entire digestive tract. If you actually have excess acid, you may find temporary relief with acid-neutralizing supplements. These will typically be calcium with support nutrients including herbs like slippery elm. You will have to experiment in order to discover what works best for you.

These are the most important first line nutrients you should consider. Next month I will cover the best nutrients for intestinal health.


Steve Lankford

Steve studied and practiced natural health and healing for three years way back in the early 1970s. In 1976, he and his wife Debbie opened Family Nutrition Center, a health food store in Green Bay. Family Nutrition Center is located at 850-A Lombardi Ave. in Green Bay. Family Nutrition Center can help you discover a nutritional program that works. For more information, visit or call 920-432-6886.

Steve is also the host of, dedicated to nutrition and your good health. The mission of the podcast is to explore the science of good nutrition and good health, and to share that with listeners and customers.

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